For the second consecutive year, the Hungarian Volleyball Federation organized a MEVZA underage tournament parallel to a senior World Tour event.
Sixteen (16) girls and twelve (12) boys teams from seven (7) different countries (CRO, CYP, CZE, HUN, ISR, SVK, and SLO) competed in the under eighteen (18) age category (U18 – born 2002 & younger) at Lupa Beach in Budapest, Hungary.
First two (2) days, Friday and Saturday, 9.-10. August were reserved for the boys. Teams were split into four (4) pools with three (3) teams each. The pool winners advanced directly into the quarterfinals, while the second and third ranked played an extra match to determine who advances into the top eight (8) and what teams will be classified from the ninth to the twelfth place.
Only the Hungarian team Dóczi-Busz (HUN III.), who finished third in their respective pool was able to upset a second placed team in this additional round and herewith advance among the top eight (8) teams.
Zajc-Bracko (SLO) were the only second ranked team from pool play, who was able to make it to the semifinal, essentially earning themselves bronze medals having only lost to both finalists in close three (3) set matches.
In the final we saw the only undefeated teams in the tournament, featuring two (2) teams from MEVZA’s newest members, Israel and Cyprus. As it should be, the final ended up being the closest and most exciting match of the whole tournament.
Teams Hadar-Day (ISR) and Kanaris-Odysseas (CYP) gave it all on the court and it was the Israeli team that ended up on top with a thrilling 2:1 (24:26, 21:17, 17:15) victory.
Sunday and Monday, 11.-12.August were reserved for the sixteen (16) girls teams that were split in four (4) pools with four (4) teams each. Similar to the boys’ competition, the pool-winners advanced directly to the quarterfinals, while the second and third ranked played an extra round. Due to more teams and consequently more total matches, the fourth ranked teams did not play classification matches, but were eliminated from the competition. In pool B, teams from Hungary, Croatia and Slovakia all had one (1) win and point ratio had to decide positions two (2) to four (4) in the pool, which meant the unfortunate end also for the last team from Slovakia, Majernikova-Cibulova (SVK III.).
The second day started with the elimination matches of “Round 12”, followed almost immediately by the quarterfinals. Surprisingly, the quarterfinals proved to be a lob-sided affair with one team in each matchup being more awake on the particular morning. Only the Hungarian team Gubik-Puskás (Hun II.) was able to enchain two (2) wins and herewith take the longest possible route into the semifinal, with five (5) matches played. They ended up making it to the podium with a win over Matousková-Hrubanová (CZE I.) in the bronze medal match, after falling just short in the Hungarian semifinal with 2:1.
The closest match, going point for point for the most part of the three (3) sets was once more the grand final itself. Vecsei-Vasvári (HUN I.) and Zbicajnik-Marolt (SLO) delivered an exciting match with the more successful end for the Slovenian team claiming a 1:2 (22:20, 19:21, 10:15) victory and spoiling the dream of Hungarian home success, who still proved to be a force in the U18 age-category with a silver and bronze medal on the girl’s side of the competition.
MEVZA beach coordinator, Frane Žanic from Croatia praised the event and the organizers from the Hungarian Volleyball Federation: “It is great that our young players get more opportunities to compete at a high level and at the same time are able to witness and experience the vibe of a World Tour event. For some of the players the World Tour will soon be the next destination and hopefully events like this one help make this transition a bit easier and smoother for them.”
1. HADAR-DAY (ISR)
2. KANARIS-ODYSSEAS (CYP)
3. ZAJC-BRACKO (SLO)
1. ZBICAJNIK-MAROLT (SLO)
2. VECSEI-VASVÁRI (HUN I.)
3. GUBIK-PUSKÁS (HUN II.)
Photo Credit: FB @BeachVolleyballHungary